Grief is the natural response to a personal loss. It may be the loss of a loved one, a relationship, family pet, or change in your way of life. Grief is experienced differently in every person. Feelings of grief and loss can have a great effect on your physical health, your mental wellbeing, your financial situation and much more. It is important to acknowledge that these feelings are completely normal. Grief does not have a specific timeline and you may feel it over an extended period. With the support of family and friends, most people gradually find ways to learn to live with grief and loss. However, for some, it may be helpful to seek professional support such as grief counselling. There are strategies and bereavement services available to help you manage feelings of grief and loss and understand the process you are going through.
5 Stages of Grief
- Denial: the inability to believe that the cause of your grief is happening/has happened.
- Anger: the anger felt helps anchor us, so we don’t fall into a state of depression. It may manifest in anger at a doctor, a loved one, perhaps even someone who didn’t attend the funeral.
- Bargaining: Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements.
- Sadness: After bargaining, our attention moves into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined.
- Acceptance: This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality, even though it is not one we are happy with. We slowly begin to create a new reality and build a future for ourselves again.
How Dealing with Grief and Loss Affects Everyday Life
- Thoughts: the cause of your grief will find a way to sneak into your thoughts. It’s your mind mulling over the fact as you haven’t accepted it yet. Some people find it hard to focus on anything else, or on anything at all, while others find it hard to care much about what is happening in their life – as though nothing compares to the loss they have experienced.
- Feelings: Grief will manifest in a combination of shock, disbelief, numbness, periods of depression anger, resentment, guilt, anxiety, or all of the above. These feelings may make you feel like you are out of control as they may be constant, or they may only appear for brief periods of time.
- Body: your body can be highly impacted during a period of grief. Some experience headaches, stomach aches, physical weakness, weight fluctuation, changes in sleeping and eating routines, a feeling of exhaustion, or just generally sick and run down.
How to Deal with Grief
- Talk to others: spend time with friends and family, and don’t isolate yourself. It helps to discuss your grief with others especially if they’re experiencing they are also dealing with grief.
- Join a support group: If you don’t feel you can talk to family or friends, then join a group of people who are going through or have gone through a similar experience.
- Realise that you will not get over your grief overnight: give yourself time to cope and accept, but don’t forget to look after yourself.
- Manage stress and anxiety: while you are still coping with your grief, lessen things that can cause more stress, perhaps by taking some time off work if possible, and asking friends or family to help you with chores and daily errands.
Reach out to your EAP counsellor or your GP or psychologist if you find that you are feeling overwhelmed. They may be able to help you cope.